The Cotton Candy of My 30s

Dave and I have returned from Porto and I will do a whole blog post on the trip, but as a prelude to that, I thought I’d share this first.

When my brother and I were little, my parents took us to a theme park or the fair. I can’t remember exactly. It might have been Disneyland, or maybe the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk or even the Napa Fair. Either way, they took us to a place that sold cotton candy. During the course of our visit, we saw all these kids eating cotton candy and it looked fabulous. We’d never had it, but those around us enjoying it sure made for some strong advertising, as far as we were concerned. So we begged our parents to get us some too. Though the details are a bit fuzzy, I’m sure there was probably some hesitation on the part of my parents. Giving their kids a giant stick of sugar? They probably weren’t going to run to the nearest vendor. Eventually, they gave in, and we sat on a curb, eager to experience the euphoria that came with our fluffy treat.

We had one bite, then turned to each other, with looks of disgust on our faces. We’d been had! Those other kids fooled us with the appearance that cotton candy was a delicious treat! This stuff was not good and we didn’t know what the appeal was.

I think we just sat there holding it, not sure what to do next. We had begged and begged for the treat, but certainly did not want to eat more. I don’t know what my parents were thinking in that moment, whether they were exasperated that they’d wasted perfectly good money on what was surely overpriced spun-sugar, or if they found our reaction to be comical. Now they look back on it and find the whole thing hilarious, but then? I’m not sure.

francesinha
I should have been tipped off by the “sauce.” It doesn’t look very thick and tomato-y.

That brings us to Porto’s francesinha sandwich, which I had been dying to try after reading about how it was the not-to-be-missed gastronomic delight of Porto. I had been telling Dave it was the dish to try while we were there and I wouldn’t consider my trip complete without having one. I mean, a Portuguese sandwich made with bread, ham, sausage, steak or roast meat and covered with melted cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce, served with french fries? What’s not to like?!

All I could think of, as I explained to my non-meat-eating boyfriend how I was sure this was going to be the best thing ever, was Joey in this episode of Friends:

Except that when my lunch came? I felt like Ross. And it did, in fact, taste like feet.

Culinary fail of EPIC proportions.

Editor’s Note: I’m sure it was just the particular restaurant’s version that was disgusting, and not the concept itself, but I was too gun-shy to try it again anywhere else.

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